When a married couple desiring to become pregnant finally gets the good news, the initial emotion that floods their soul is like a giddy child stepping through the gate of a popular amusement park for the very first time. The joyous occasion must be shared with all, and as that baby grows in the womb, so do the dreams of the parents for the baby’s future.
Then as the pregnancy progresses, reality rears its ugly head. Jahavier and Ryan Walker definitely know a little something about that.
When baby Tate Walker was trying to make his way into the world, he was delayed in the birth canal for 30 hours. Doctors assisted via C-section, and then there was the complication of getting the fluid out of his lungs.
Baby Tate had trouble opening his eyes, which was initially attributed to swelling. Then on the evening following his birth, his parents were dealt a very difficult blow. A doctor came into their room and told them their baby had been born without any eyes, a rare condition known as anophthalmia.
Only about 1 baby in every 5,200 is born with it in the United States.
The Walkers were devastated.
“He will be blind the rest of his life. That was it,” Ryan Walker told WGHP. “Of course, we were in such shock, we couldn’t ask questions about what that is, what that means.”
The couple said they spent the rest of the night crying, trying to process what they’d just heard, and figure out what questions to ask the next day.
The condition is basically a genetic defect, and is unfortunately a difficult one to treat. The treatment usually requires a team of specialists, and long-term follow-up is typically necessary.
The Walkers have made a point of reaching out to others for help and building a support network.
“They tell us that it’s really rare, but there’s a bunch of people on that Facebook group,” Jahavier said.
Though there is presently no cure for the condition and the Walkers make too much money to qualify for Medicaid and Social Security benefits for Tate, they are hoping that as science and technology advance, Tate will one day be able to have eyes implanted.
If you or someone you know is the parent of a child who is blind or has low vision challenges, here are a few helpful resources: Braille Works, American Foundation For The Blind (AFB), Web MD – Tips For Parents Of Visually Impaired Children, Special Touch Ministry and American Council For The Blind.